Türkiye-Syria Earthquakes: WFP Reaches Communities With Lifesaving Assistance

Photo: WFP/2023
World Food Programme
Published February 9, 2023

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has reached 300,000 people with urgently needed food assistance, with plans to scale up sharply and reach 900,000 — if funding comes through — following the deadly earthquakes that struck along the border between Türkiye and Syria on February 6.

WFP Is on the Ground in Türkiye and Syria

“Thousands of lives have been lost,” the U.N. World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley said on Twitter, “but our teams are on the ground.”

delivering WFP food rations to families displaced by earthquakes in Aleppo
Photo: WFP/2023

The U.N. World Food Programme has reached 64,000 people in Türkiye and Syria with emergency food assistance.

Within 24 hours, the U.N. World Food Programme was supporting affected people in both countries with ready-to-eat food rations, family food packages and hot meals. The food being distributed requires no cooking and provides immediate relief for families whose precarious position is made worse by freezing temperatures.

“That’s the U.N. World Food Programme,” Beasley added. “Lives matter. We care. We’re there.”

WFP Delivers Emergency Food Assistance to People Affected by the Earthquakes

In Türkiye, which hosts the world’s largest refugee population, the U.N. World Food Programme is delivering food to soup kitchens across eight southeastern provinces and is gearing up to distribute 3.3 million meals to 118,500 people through local community kitchens in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, we continue to increase our assistance to Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens displaced by the quakes sheltering in camps.

residents walk along damaged buildings following the earthquake in Hama
Photo: WFP/2023

Areas of Syria closest to the epicenter of the earthquakes have been strained by 12 years of conflict.

Quakes Exacerbate Humanitarian Crisis Along Türkiye-Syria Border

In Syria, where the quakes have further complicated an acute humanitarian crisis, the U.N. World Food Programme and its local partners have assisted 90,000 people directly impacted by the quakes with emergency hot meals and ready-to-eat rations. A further 80,000 are set to receive food being made available by the U.N. World Food Programme to distribution partners on the ground.

WFP food distribution to displaced people in Aleppo
Photo: WFP/2023

In Aleppo, Syria, within the first 24 hours of the disaster, the U.N. World Food Programme distributed 4,000 hot meals.

The country’s hard-hit northwest urgently needs more U.N. World Food Programme food delivered swiftly — and for all parties to facilitate humanitarian access to reach all people who need our support. The U.N. World Food Programme is planning for its next cross-border shipment of food supplies on Wednesday, February 15.

“One of our biggest challenges right now is not the transport, it’s not the food, it’s access,” said U.N. World Food Programme Syria Country Director Kenn Crossley. “Some of the people hardest to reach are in places where there is ongoing conflict. We need to be able to reach the people who are in these places.”

Even before disaster hit, some 4.1 million people in northwest Syria – more than 90% of the population – depended on humanitarian aid. 12 years of conflict have displaced almost 3 million people from their homes and left them living in precarious conditions.

“A region plagued by years of compounding crises faces yet another one, with unimaginable loss and destruction. Immediate relief cannot be delayed,” said U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe Corinne Fleischer. “The U.N. World Food Programme’s strong footprint in both countries enabled us to immediately mobilize our staff, logistics capacity and partners to respond to people’s most immediate food needs.”

To meet the urgent food needs, the U.N. World Food Programme is appealing for $50 million to support a total of 900,000 people in Türkiye and Syria.

The U.N. World Food Programme mourns all the lives lost in this tragedy, including one of its own staff members.

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This story originally appeared on WFP’s Stories on Thursday, February 9.